The cost of Diabetes.

A few weekends ago Bobby and I got to go and stay for a night with our wonderful friends Lottie and Michael, in their newly bought home in Bordon. On our train journey there I swiftly realised that I’d forgotten to pick up another Levemir pen from the fridge. I only had enough insulin to get me through that evening and none at all for the following morning. I had enough NovoRapid but just that on it’s own isn’t going to help to keep my blood sugar under control. Upon this realisation, I panicked. I also couldn’t believe that I’d forgotten to pick up another pen. I even reminded myself in the morning to get another out of the fridge and it completely slipped my mind! At the end of the day, I’m only human and I do forget things, but forgetting something as important as another insulin pen really isn’t like me at all! I was so upset, angry and annoyed with myself.

Bobby and I looked for a nearby chemist close to where Lottie was picking us up so we were able to drive their straight away. We got to a really tiny chemist close by and we rushed in. I didn’t need an entire box of Levemir pens, just one pen if it was at all possible. We spoke to the pharmacist and he told me he didn’t have any boxes that had already been open and couldn’t give me just one. Not only could he not give me one, but regardless of giving me one or not, I would have had to pay for it. I steeled myself to hear how much it would cost and when he told me the price my jaw dropped. It was going to cost me £80 to buy a box of 5 Levemir pens. £80!!! My emotions were so heightened at the time that I couldn’t physically speak to the pharmacist in case I cried my eyes out. (Which for reference, I did when I left the chemist). I told him that I couldn’t afford to pay that and he said there was another chemist that we could try. He gave us the details and we immediately left.

Lottie rang ahead to the other chemist and told them the situation. The pharmacist actually said they would be able to give me a Levemir pen for free! We drove to the second chemist and the pharmacist was incredible. He sorted out another pen for me free of charge and we were soon on our way to Lottie and Michael’s house.

That experience utterly terrified me. Apparently, the reason why the second chemist could give me a pen and the first couldn’t was because they operate an emergency prescription service. Thank god they did! Imagine if they hadn’t, I would have been utterly screwed and I wouldn’t have known what to do.

When I’d calmed down and I was able to properly reflect on what had just happened, I actually couldn’t process that it would have cost me £80 for a box of 5 Levemir pens… Who the hell can afford to pay that? I definitely couldn’t fork that out every month. Not only £80 for a box of Levemir, but probably £80 for a box of NovoRapid too. On top of that I would have to pay for lancets, test strips and needles too. We are so lucky to have the healthcare we have in the UK. I honestly don’t know what I would do if we didn’t have the NHS and the amazing services that they provide. We are so very lucky and I don’t know where or what state I would actually be in if I had to pay for all my medical supplies.

Unfortunately for some, their healthcare systems just aren’t as great as ours and they have to fork out hundreds to thousands of dollars each month to keep themselves alive. They have to pay for medical supplies for a condition they never asked for. It’s really completely unfair. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must be like. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a high paying career, so how can everyone afford it? The answer is: they can’t.

I read an extremely distressing story recently about an incident that happened over a year ago. A 26 year old man, Alec, from Minnesota died from diabetic ketoacidosis last year due to rationing insulin because of it’s high cost. (Ketoacidosis is when the body starts to run out of insulin and builds up a harmful substance called ketones, which can be life threatening if not treated.) Alec aged out of his parents’ insurance coverage last year and from that point on had no insurance. Without this his medical costs would have been between $1000 to $2000 a month. He died 27 days after his parent’s insurance coverage expired for him. Alec’s mother had no idea that he was having to ration his insulin because of the cost and it was too late when she found out. Alec’s mother is now campaigning to reduce the cost of insulin in America and is working alongside The American Diabetes Association.

In America the cost of insulin is constantly on the rise. One father testified that the cost of his son’s insulin rose from $300 in 2017 to more than $900 at the beginning of 2018. The father had no choice but to buy the insulin from Canada where prices were significantly cheaper. There are around 30 million American citizens living with Diabetes. That’s nearly 1 in 10 people. The rising cost of insulin is becoming so detrimental that people are beginning to question whether they should be using their money to buy insulin or food.

I honestly can’t begin to imagine being in that situation and the thought terrifies the life out of me. I thank my lucky stars every day that we have such amazing healthcare. Thank god, thank god for the NHS.

 

 

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